Norton Rose head quietly re-elected as attention turns to prospects for chairman

Martyr wins third term leading Norton Rose; Camerons re-elects Weston as managing partner

Peter Martyr is set to take up another term as chief executive of Norton Rose Group on 1 January, with the reappointment coming as the firm prepares for an election process for its chairman position, with Stephen Parish’s term due to end at the close of the financial year (30 April).

Martyr was re-elected over the summer for a three-year term as both chief executive of Norton Rose Group, which includes the firm’s merged operations in Australia, Canada and South Africa, and managing partner of the 
UK limited liability partnership (LLP). He stood uncontested for the post, with the firm holding no soundings for other potential candidates to come forward.

Partners within the firm are unclear whether there will be an open nomination process to find a successor for Parish, or whether he will also be put forward as the sole candidate for the role. Tim Marsden was nominated by management as the only candidate for the newly-created position of deputy managing partner of the LLP in May this year.

The process has provoked criticism from some within the firm that the system is undemocratic, even though most were in favour of Martyr remaining at the helm.

One partner commented: “Who knows if partners will be invited to stand for chairman? Peter Martyr was re-elected several months ago. There was supposed to be a range of candidates but it never opened up for nominations.”

Norton Rose has carried out a number of high-profile international mergers under Martyr’s leadership over the last two years. It is set to add Canada’s Macleod Dixon to its Swiss Verein-style international network on 
1 January, having combined with Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault and South Africa’s Deneys Reitz on 1 June this year and Australia’s Deacons on 1 January 2010.

Other notable management decisions under Martyr include a move to a more merit-based partner remuneration structure, approved by partners in the summer.

News of Martyr’s re-election comes as CMS Cameron McKenna voted through managing partner Duncan Weston for a second four-year term last week (25 November) in an uncontested election. Weston replaced Dick Tyler as managing partner in May 2008, having seen off competition from corporate partner Louise Wallace, property head Edward Benzecry, commercial head Nigel Moore and corporate partner Niall McAlister to be elected to the role in 2007.

Camerons elected Tyler, who went on to become executive partner of the CMS European network after serving as managing partner, as senior partner of the firm effective 1 May this year, replacing Richard Price. That election saw Tyler push Wallace into second place after banking and projects partner Andrew Ivison and energy partner Robert Lane were eliminated.